Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mandarin: A Kind of Experience

This is a post to encourage KhayShi, who can’t understand why after so many years of formal Chinese education, still have difficulties in reading Mandarin (or Chinese). I would like to tell her a story, of how I met the language Mandarin.

Mandarin was not really my stuff since young. When I was young, only simple, daily mandarin was spoken at home and mostly, that was replaced by English (I have no idea why…). I did not really start any Mandarin language class formally until my kindergarten days in Yik Chin back in Tawau. But by then, we were only studying one-words. I thought I was learning fast enough, but when I came to Penang and entered the kindergarten there, I know what was meant by slow.

I was really really behind and left out by the whole class because I don’t understand what were they learning, doing or whatever – my Mandarin was just too simple to be used there. So, not mentioning getting the worst in class result for Chinese, and also having hard time learning and understanding others. Have you ever had the experience that in the exam, you can’t even understand what the instruction is about? I had and that time every subject was written in Chinese (freaking bad!). And I started to hate mandarin, just because I am not good at it – and I have no idea how to understand it. Even in primary school, I learn just what enough to ensure I remain in the same class, just that usual standard, no particular interest. But my mandarin does improve until I can converse with friends (environment is a force, I guess). Chinese was not my cup of tea… until secondary school, when I was laughed by others for not reading loads of Chinese story books. I was like an alien because being a student in a Chinese school, I don’t read Chinese book, don’t listen to Chinese song, don’t watch Chinese movie – but eating Chinese food. But what can I do? And then I met Siang Chia – funny thing was I was in the same class with her since primary but we never really know each other until then. She introduced me Ou Yang Ling’s book. It was all started like a simple ‘okay, let me flip through and see the funny pictures’, and- I was stuck with the book. It was written in simple and funny Chinese… That was the first time I really started to read Chinese book – including starting to went back home and find out all those covered-with-dust book I never touched. That was when Chinese flows into my life so quickly – myths, legends, history – everything. Even the first Harry Potter book I read was in Chinese!

Yes, this is my story about how Chinese just came into my life, in a sudden and I am in it till now… KhayShi, you just need to love the language…

3 comments:

Khayshi said...

My first and second Harry Potter was in Chinese too! Unfortunately I couldn't comprehend well so I resorted to reread the books in English versions. So much better =)

I don't think I was teased during school time for being poor at Chinese, except that I always get lowest marks in class for Chinese exams). Until I come to Uni and talk to people who uses idioms and 4-word-cheng-yu I feel so dumb... Cuz seems like everyone even English ed people know. =(

Mafer said...

Haha... I also changed to English later on cause it is meant to be read in English la.. but can read some interesting book in Chinese, lame, without meaning but funny ones that make you laugh also will improve one... haha!

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